A participatory modelling approach to support integrated sustainability assessment processes

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Several authors have described the usefulness of participatory system dynamics approaches in environmental decision-making processes, particularly in supporting problem scoping and policy analysis. This paper explores how these approaches may be expanded to provide a coherent, deliberative platform, which structures Integrated Sustainability Assessments (ISA) of policy proposals. The proposed ISA framework forms a five-stage feedback and learning process including scoping, visioning, model building, simulation/assessment and monitoring. We discuss these elements considering a set of best practice principles for participation in environmental assessment and decision making. Subsequently, we lay out a roadmap for implementing and testing the framework. We conclude that participatory modelling has a strong potential for supporting ISA processes. It allows stakeholders to build alternative policies, to reflect on their long-term dynamics, and to gain insights on the interrelationships underlying persistent sustainability problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-460
Number of pages15
JournalSystems Research And Behavioral Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2010


  • Integrated sustainability assessment
  • Participatory modelling
  • Public participation
  • System dynamics


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